StarCraft® II

The Importance of Computer Maintenance

Posts: 154
I’m a computing enthusiast who enjoys building and maintaining high end computers for gaming and other resource heavy tasks. I also enjoy cruising tech forums and tech support areas of games I like to play, in an effort to help my fellow gamer work out any difficulties they may be having. I’m not paid by Blizzard, but I like to help them out.

Whenever a game developer releases a new product, there will be difficulties with that product for a while after initial release. No amount of beta testing on the PC can prepare a developer for every single eventuality when the product is released. Blizzard is a company that is known for releasing a quality product that will play well across a broad spectrum of computers and configurations. This effect is also now being seen on the latest generation of console games, with blockbuster titles like Modern Warfare 2. There are/were several exploits in MW2 that lasted for a few months after release, and whenever an exploit was patched another would pop up.

Beyond that, there are several things that the average user overlooks when a new game comes out and they find that their system doesn’t quite work 100% correctly with it or doesn’t work at all, unexpectedly.

First, you need to be aware of the minimum required specifications. Save your money if you don’t meet them, but expect poor performance if you barely meet the minimum specs, and expect decent to good performance if you meet the recommended specs.

Link to the Official Minimum Specs:

http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/13501357

A lot of headaches are caused by out of date drivers. All computer hardware requires drivers to make a particular piece of software work with the game and the OS. Updating your drivers is important. Any updates should be available from the computer manufacturer if you are using a pre-built PC, or from the manufacturer of a particular piece of hardware.
Video Card drivers are a special case, most often when dealing with video cards updating them can lead to other issues. It is for this reason that I highly recommend that you completely remove all traces of your video drivers before reinstalling them.

Here’s a tutorial.

Download an application called Driver Sweeper, available for free from Guru3d.

It is available here: http://www.guru3d.com/category/driversweeper/

Now, uninstall your video driver suite through Remove Programs, then open Device Manager and uninstall your video device. Check the box for deleting the driver from the PC. This will cause your screen to change to a much lower resolution, but that’s ok. Now, run Driver Sweeper and select it to scan for Manufacturer-Display, being ATI or NVIDIA depending on what card you have. Then click clean for the same. Be careful not to remove your chipset drivers or PhysX software, since it is possible to do so with this app. This will remove every single bit of data on your old drivers, including registry entries. To double check it is all gone; you can reboot into Safe Mode and run the app again to see if it missed anything while the old drivers were loaded. I skip that step personally, since I have found that the app rarely misses anything with Catalyst drivers.

Now reinstall the latest WHQL certified drivers, reboot and you should be good to go. I know for a fact that this method cures BSOD with a 5970 on a fresh install of 10.7a drivers and fixed some Crossfire issues I had with this card.

Sound drivers are equally notorious for causing system lockups and issues, but it’s not as obvious that this is the issue when they cause an error. Your sound card manufacturer, or motherboard manufacturer (in the case of onboard sound devices) should have the latest drivers for your card. Guru3d hosts many of the updated sound drivers for onboard cards in their downloads section, and File Hippo has the latest Realtek AC’97 and HD Audio drivers, check with your motherboard manufacturer to ensure you install the correct sound drivers.

Guru3d: http://www.guru3d.com
File Hippo: http://www.filehippo.com

The same goes for your chipset drivers. Your system manufacturer will have all of the updated chipset drivers available for download from their site.

Now, onto the fun stuff! Dust is the bane of the power PC user. Any sensible person knows that dust is unavoidable and will collect in your PC. Blowing it out with a can of compressed air regularly will help, but after time there will be some parts of your PC you will want to pay extra attention to.

When I open my case, I check all of the fans for signs of dust and for signs of failure. All fans should be able to spin freely and similarly. Any fans that are difficult to turn, or stop spinning much faster than the other will need to be replaced. Proper airflow is vital for cooling the modern PC. Today’s technology is much hotter than previous generations, and too much heat inside the case can affect all of the hardware’s performance.

Check the CPU heatsink. This is often the most overlooked area of the PC. People make sure the fan is clean, but the cooling fins are often caked with dust. Spray it out vigorously to get a majority, or all of the dust out of the cooling fins, this will drastically drop temperatures on your CPU and help improve performance.

Check the video card. Most modern high end cards have coolers on them that collect dust too. Blow them out. I recommend removing them from the mother board in order to get the best cleaning on them as possible.

Check the PSU (Power Supply). I’ll say it right now. The PSU really is one of the most important pieces of hardware on your system. When you make an investment in building a PC, or upgrading a component, your PSU needs to be a quality branded one. I recommend Corsair, as their PSU’s are rock solid, in whatever wattage you need. Wattage is not the only important number you need to pay attention to though. Most modern video cards require at least 25 Amps on the 12v rail and the previous generations of PSU’s standard is 18A. The sticker on the side of your PSU will break down all of the critical information, like the number of 12v rails contained in the PSU and the amps each rail provides. I prefer single railed PSU’s and the one I am using now cranks out 850W @ 72 amps on the rail, well within the spec of modern video cards. Keep in mind that as a PSU ages, it loses some of its capacity and will eventually fail. This is known as PSU droop. If you want to know more about it, Google or Bing will tell you.

Lastly, if you still have problems beyond what is listed here and you want the community to be able to help you, feel free to ask any question you like, but include your systems specs as best you can.

Example:
AMD Phenom II x 4 965 BE
ASUS Crosshair III: Formula
8GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3 @ 1333mhz (model number here may help, usually printed on a label)
ASUS HD5970 w Cat10.7a
SoundBlaster Titanium X-Fi (or onboard)
HDD
PSU
OS (Win7 Ultimate 64 Bit)

OR

Computer Manufacturer and Model Number if prebuilt, also try to list any installed upgrades and the OS.

This information will make it much easier for Blizzard and us enthusiasts to help you out.
Edited by DannibusX on 8/17/2010 1:09 PM PDT
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Posts: 1,218
I think my biggest problem has always been Windows 7 think it's smart and tries to update your drivers for you.

I uninstall current driver, reboot. Windows 7 then says "LOL I KNO THIS CARD, LEMME PUT DRIVERS 4 U". Still haven't figured out a way to disable that.

Went back to Vista. No problem now cuz Vista is old and it can't recognize newer hardware ^_^
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Posts: 19
You don't always need to uninstall the current driver - especially if it's one that windows has installed for you - these are usually barebones drivers with no software. Overwriting them shouldn't be a problem. It's when you get software and 'driver suites' like catalyst control center and nvidia control panel etc. that overwriting them is more of a problem.

I am a computer enthusiast as well and i can say for sure that with nVidia cards, there have been no problems overwriting the drivers. When a new version comes out, i download and install directly without removing any drivers. This has not had any negative impact on my system, however I keep my computer quite clean and fast in all other areas too.
Edited by KingKalamari on 8/17/2010 11:41 AM PDT
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Posts: 154
I don't have much experience with nVidia cards and drivers anymore, but I can say for a fact that ATI drivers usually need to be cleaned out.

King is right about the driver that Windows installs though, it's a basic driver you don't need to worry about and it can be installed over with no issues.
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Posts: 950
I think my biggest problem has always been Windows 7 think it's smart and tries to update your drivers for you.

Nvidia's driver installation routine is smart enough to block the auto-installation from occurring. I recall on older ATI chipsets, as well as Nvidia, if the O/S had referenced an older driver file and you updated the drivers with this reference in place I got horrible shutter, performance issues, crashes, etc. I could work around it in Windows XP but Vista/7 are obnoxious in their quest to "do everything for you assuming you're a PC moron" so the vendors (Nvidia/ATI) have had to workaround this.
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Posts: 4
You do realise you can just pick "Show me the updates but ask me whether to install them or not" option so you have proper control over your drivers?
Edited by Beliar on 8/18/2010 5:25 PM PDT
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Posts: 126
Very well written article! It's nice to see another computer enthusiasts! One more suggestion I would like to add to your article is have them list any kind of antivirus, firewall, or spyware blocker they may have. Some people will either have none or over protect themselves with multiple antivirus programs that may conflict with each other and hinder the computer's performance level. Firewalls may also cause connectivity problems for Starcraft II too.
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Posts: 371
nice post OP. +1
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Posts: 1,218
You do realise you can just pick "Show me the updates but ask me whether to install them or not" option so you have proper control over your drivers?

Actually where is that option? I've seen that option under Windows Updates, I did not know whether or not it applies to driver installs.
Edited by Arctia on 8/19/2010 11:53 AM PDT
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Posts: 134
Good post may not have helped me personally but I know if this was out a few years ago it probably would have, I know blizzard releases quality games and I also recognize the fact that they cant anticipate EVERY problem with EVERY system out there.

My Biggest beef so far has been a little lack of response to peoples threads pertaining to issues that they are aware of (but have not posted them in there own threads) much to my dismay I ahve yet to be able to play any games of SC2 for anything longer then a few minutes to under a half hour, and as being an IT professional in training I know enough about my computer at least to have it clean in the case and my drivers updated(every accept my Bios is currently up to date and thats only because I'm rather learey about doing anything wit the bios)

Other then that Good post Good Game(from what I have seen of it at least lol(btw if Blizz is reading these I LOVED the arcade game in the cantina idea))
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Posts: 496
Good post may not have helped me personally but I know if this was out a few years ago it probably would have, I know blizzard releases quality games and I also recognize the fact that they cant anticipate EVERY problem with EVERY system out there.

My Biggest beef so far has been a little lack of response to peoples threads pertaining to issues that they are aware of (but have not posted them in there own threads) much to my dismay I ahve yet to be able to play any games of SC2 for anything longer then a few minutes to under a half hour, and as being an IT professional in training I know enough about my computer at least to have it clean in the case and my drivers updated(every accept my Bios is currently up to date and thats only because I'm rather learey about doing anything wit the bios)

Other then that Good post Good Game(from what I have seen of it at least lol(btw if Blizz is reading these I LOVED the arcade game in the cantina idea))


ya i'm scared of flashing my bios too :O although i have never read anything to suggest that doing it would make my system better, just that it can sometime add new features or small (firmware?) updates. i need to Google firmware.. still don't know the difference between it and software :O
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Posts: 134
Firmware is the "software" for your hardware lol, I know it can be a bit confusing but its like say getting a used book with taterd cover and pages and then you get an "update" for it and it looks new again AND with some new chapters added to it.

IN a nuthsell firmware can fix some issues with say compatibility or something not working the way they intended it to
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Posts: 154
Flashing the BIOS is an easy process that can and has gone horribly wrong for people in the past. If you mess it up, you can turn whatever piece of hardware into a brick. For flashing a BIOS I have a couple of rules that I follow.

First, never, ever flash a BIOS in Windows. You'll need to use a utility like EZ Flash (ASUS Motherboards) or a boot disk/bootable USB drive to flash in DOS prior to Windows booting.

Second, I use a UPS whenever I flash my BIOS. If there's a power loss while I'm flashing, the UPS will keep my system powered long enough to flash my BIOS and shut down without ruining my equipment.

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Posts: 6
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Edited by Voorhees on 8/30/2010 4:02 PM PDT
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Posts: 210

Here’s a tutorial.

Download an application called Driver Sweeper, available for free from Guru3d.

It is available here: http://www.guru3d.com/category/driversweeper/

Now, uninstall your video driver suite through Remove Programs, then open Device Manager and uninstall your video device. Check the box for deleting the driver from the PC. This will cause your screen to change to a much lower resolution, but that’s ok. Now, run Driver Sweeper and select it to scan for Manufacturer-Display, being ATI or NVIDIA depending on what card you have. Then click clean for the same. Be careful not to remove your chipset drivers or PhysX software, since it is possible to do so with this app. This will remove every single bit of data on your old drivers, including registry entries. To double check it is all gone; you can reboot into Safe Mode and run the app again to see if it missed anything while the old drivers were loaded. I skip that step personally, since I have found that the app rarely misses anything with Catalyst drivers.

Now reinstall the latest WHQL certified drivers, reboot and you should be good to go. I know for a fact that this method cures BSOD with a 5970 on a fresh install of 10.7a drivers and fixed some Crossfire issues I had with this card.



I followed all of these steps and my resolution still hasn't changed back to normal. I can't even see the drivers that i installed in my add programs list anymore. Please help, I have a toshiba laptop with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 graphics card

EDIT: Never mind guys, I did a system restore everything is the same as before. But I would just like to know, are my drivers out dated and where could I go to download them? I have the ATI CCC if that helps.

Sorry I'm not good at this drivers business but what are the best settings to use in the CCC to maximize my performance? At times when I play I get fps as low as 10 and it gets frustrating. I'm not sure if it's my drivers that are out dated or if it has something to do with the CCC. Help is greatly appreciated.
Edited by Xtol on 8/28/2010 12:36 AM PDT
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Posts: 37
Wow. I don't understand a word of this
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Posts: 109
What rubbish OP. really, what stupid rubbish. deflecting the fact the game has been causing problems?
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Posts: 420
Firmware is the software for your hardware lol,...
More accurately, Firmware is the software installed on your hardware, if software for your hardware is installed on your HDD it is called Drivers, with pr without a control panel for higher functions.
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Posts: 3
How would you go about removing dust from the heatsink and other parts on a laptop?
because from my experience laptops have parts that are very hard to get access to when you need to remove dust from the computer's interor.
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